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NFL insider views Tampa Bay Buccaneers as potential Baker Mayfield landing spot

Matt Johnson
Baker-Mayfield-trade
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback Baker Mayfield desperately wants to be traded this offseason. While he and the Cleveland Browns both want a separation and there is interest from multiple teams, it seems we might be waiting a while for a deal to happen.

Mayfield, selected with the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, is partially responsible for the situation. Recent comments made in an interview added fuel to the concerns multiple teams have regarding his maturity and personality.

The 27-year-old’s contract is also proving to be an issue. A year after Cleveland fully guaranteed Mayfield’s 2022 salary, there is no team willing to absorb the cap hit and Mayfield won’t be released without agreeing to a buyout.

  • Baker Mayfield contract: $18.858 million

For now, a trade doesn’t appear to be on the horizon. However, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport shared on the Pat McAfee Show that be believes the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be a potential landing spot for Mayfield.

“Maybe a team that brings him in as a high-money backup who could take over, like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, that would make some sense to me.”

NFL insider Ian Rapoport on Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a potential fit for Baker Mayfield

On the surface, Tampa Bay might seem like an odd fit for Mayfield. Bruce Arians, who seemed high on Mayfield, is now out of the picture. Furthermore, the organization is operating with just under $4 million in cap space before the NFL Draft. However, there is some logic behind the thinking.

Related: Baker Mayfield trade not imminent, could go past NFL Draft

Why Baker Mayfield could be a fit for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Jeff Lange / USA TODAY NETWORK

In order for any deal to happen, the Browns would need to cover a significant portion of Mayfield’s cap hit for the upcoming season. That’s a necessity for any trade the franchise makes. If the Buccaneers are willing to take on a higher percentage of the salary than, for example, the Carolina Panthers, it could increase their odds of landing him.

In terms of Mayfield’s on-field impact, it would be minimal. Tom Brady hasn’t missed a game due to an injury since tearing his ACL in Week 1 of the 2008 season. Outside of that instance, he’s started every game when not serving a suspension.

Related: NFL teams view Baker Mayfield as ‘bottom-half’ starter

Tampa Bay’s motivation behind the deal would be centered on 2023. Bringing in Mayfield now gives the front office and head coach Todd Bowles an opportunity to evaluate Mayfield in person for an entire season. They can learn how coachable he is, if he’s a quality leader and whether or not the physical tools exist when healthy to be a starting quarterback.

From Mayfield’s perspective, an agent could sell him on joining the Bucs. While he wouldn’t see any playing time, outside of preseason action, he would get to work alongside Brady and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. Mitch Trubisky turned a backup job in 2021 into a $14.285 million contract a year later.

Given Mayfield’s pedigree, he could experience similar results or an even better outcome if he winds up in Tampa Bay. Carolina might still be a better landing spot right now, but that also comes with greater risk for a quarterback who is at a pivotal point in his career.